Childhood & Early Life
Jenilee Harrison was born on June 12, 1958 in a middle-class household in Northridge, California. While her father was an aerospace engineer, her mother was a math teacher. She had four siblings, two elder sisters and two younger brothers.
She spent much of her growing up years in San Fernando Valley. Her parents divorced when she was 15. Despite living separately, young Harrison was close to both of them.
Jenilee Harrison was blessed with an impressive figure and naturally glowing skin. She had cheerful blond looks and a tall, slender frame that gave an overall impression of a chic girl. She contested in several beauty pageants, winning most of them including Miss San Fernando Valley, Miss Los Angeles, Miss Hollywood and Miss Young America.
Despite having gained success as a model, she did not give up on her studies. Instead, she continued her studies as well as pursued her career in modelling. She did a couple of television commercials and modelling assignments, the money gained from which she used, to pay her academic fees at the University of Southern California (USC).
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Jenilee Harrison’s career kickstarted in 1978 when she was chosen as one of the members of the NFL cheerleading squad for Los Angeles’ Rams’ Embraceable Ewes. She thought of the project as her ticket to get into Hollywood. She was seen in the opening moments of the highlight film for Super Bowl XIV, which shows the Rams cheerleaders in their dressing room before the game. She was also be seen in the second season episode of CHiPs when Jon and Ponch pull over a van-load of Rams cheerleader
In 1980, she graduated with an education degree from USC. In the same year, she won the title Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. It was while studying at USC that Jenilee first met acting coach Joyce Selznick. Selznick gave her a lot of handy tips on how to polish her acting skills.
In 1980, Jenilee’s big breakthrough came in when she was cast for the ABC’s hit television sitcom ‘Three’s Company’. She was to enter the show as a replacement for Suzanne Somers, the ditzy dumb blonde who played Chrissy Snow. In it, Jenilee played the character of Cindy Snow, a cousin of Chrissy Snow. Cindy was quite similar to her cousin Chrissy excepting for the fact that she wasn’t a dumb blonde.
Jenilee made her debut on season five for the seventh episode of ‘Three's Company’. The episode entitled ‘Chrissy's Cousin’. She entered the show as Jack and Janet's new roommate. Right at the start, Cindy proved that she was a klutz by knocking Jack down.
Jenilee brought a lot of mirth and hilarity to the show and added to the show’s gags by being clumsy and witty. Despite replacing Somers, Jenilee wasn’t given opening credits billing. Instead she received end-credits billed, as a guest star.
Jenilee reprised her character for the sixth season of ‘Three’s Company’. This time, she was given opening credits. Though it wasn’t a meaty role any longer, people loved her in-and-out appearance and the fun and laughter that she brought with her presence. Though she had minor role in the first few episodes, it was during the midseason that her character took shape and she had greater screen time. However, towards the end, her screen time lessened yet again.
By the end of the season 6 of ‘Three’s Company’, Jenilee's character was deemed obsolete. It wasn’t reprised for the next season and her character Cindy Snow disappeared from the series. Only briefly for the 24th episode of season 6, she appeared in ‘Janet Wings Out’.
Jenilee’s next role came in as Jamie Ewing Barnes on the high-profile hit drama series ‘Dallas’. In 1984, she made her debut in the series with the episode ‘Jamie’. A recurring character, Jenilee reprised her role until 1986 after which she decided to wrap it over. Her character was ultimately killed in a mountain climbing accident.
Apart from her television appearances, she made her foray in films as well. In 1984, she played the role of a reluctant prostitute in the movie ‘Tank’, alongside James Garner and C. Thomas Howell. Meanwhile, in 1983, she had also worked for a television miniseries ‘Malibu’ with Oscar winners James Coburn and Eva Marie Saint.
While working on ‘Dallas’, in 1985, Jenilee appeared on TV game show ‘Super Password’ with Dick Gautier. She made a second entry in the show in 1986 with Marty Cohen, Michael Young and Bruce Baum, and later came back a third time in 1987 with Bert Convy.
From mid-1980s to 1990s, she made guest appearances in several shows including ‘The Love Boat, ‘The New Mike Hammer’, ‘Simon & Simon’, ‘Hotel’, ‘Murder She Wrote’, ‘She’s the Sheriff’ and ‘They Came from Outer Space’.
After a long hiatus, in 1999, Jenilee jumped back to television, this time making a guest appearance on FOX-TV's ‘That 70's Show’.
Since 2005, Harrison began starring on infomercials, where she is a spokesperson of numerous products, most notably, the Ultimate Chopper with Chef Tony.
Personal Life & Legacy
Jenilee Harrison dated a couple of men including L.A. Rams guard Dennis Harrah and former major league baseball player and Hall Of Famer Reggie Jackson before tying the nuptial knot to Dr. Bruce Oppenheim, a prominent Los Angeles area chiropractor, in 1988.
After the marriage, Jenilee became stepmother to Oppenheim’s two children, Ariel and Zachariah, from his previous marriage to actress Cybill Sheperd. She doesn’t have her own children.